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The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (Vermont Yankee) is a nominal 650 megawatt boiling water reactor located in the southeastern corner of Vermont, in the town of Vernon. Vermont Yankee is the largest electric generation station within Vermont. In 2002, Vermont Yankee was sold by the eight New England utilities that owned the plant to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee, LLC, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Vermont Yankee began operating in 1972 and was licensed to operate for 40 years through March 21, 2012. Vermont Yankee received a renewed operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) extending the plant operation for an additional 20 years to 2032. In addition, Vermont Yankee also needed to receive approval from the State of Vermont to operate beyond 2012. Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee petitioned the Vermont Public Service Board for a Certificate of Public Good in Docket 7862, to operate Vermont Yankee for an additional twenty-year period ending in 2032. However, on August 27, 2013, Entergy announced that Vermont Yankee would cease operations in the fourth quarter of 2014 for economic reasons, and also amended its petition in Docket 7862 to seek approval to operate only through December 31, 2014. On September 23, 2013, Entergy formally notified the NRC that it would cease operations in 2014.
On December 23, 2013, the State of Vermont and Entergy VY announced a Settlement Agreement (the “Agreement”) that resolved all ongoing litigation between the State and Entergy VY, and provided a path to decommissioning and site restoration of Vermont Yankee. The full text of the Agreement can be read here. The Agreement was contingent upon the Public Service Board issuing a Certificate of Public Good in Docket 7862 by March 31, 2014. As part of the Agreement, the State and Entergy VY submitted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Public Service Board in Docket 7862. The full text of the MOU can be read here. A joint statement by the parties to the Agreement can be read here.
On March 28, 2014, the Vermont Public Service Board conditionally granted Entergy VY an amended Certificate of Public Good (CPG) authorizing Entergy VY to own and operate the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station until December 31, 2014, subject to the MOU. The Final Order can be read here, and the Amended CPG can be read here.
In the present and coming years, Vermont faces a number of issues related to the Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee power station (Vermont Yankee) including:
- The national dilemma of no permanent storage plan for spent nuclear fuel from power reactors.
- Additional studies are being conducted concerning lessons learned from the problems uncovered at Fukushima, Japan following the tsunami event there.
The Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan also contains more extensive discussion of these and other nuclear issues.
On December 23, 2013, when announcing the Settlement Agreement between the State of Vermont and Entergy, Governor Shumlin committed to expanding the Vermont State Nuclear Advisory Panel (VSNAP) to make it a more citizen-focused decommissioning advisory panel. As a result of the Public Service Board’s approval of the MOU, and the full effectuation of the Settlement Agreement, during the 2014 Legislative Session, the Vermont Legislature amended 18 V.S.A. Chapter 34 to convert the former VSNAP to the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel (see Section E.233 of H.885C).Historical information on VSNAP can be obtained on the VSNAP website. In general, the 2014 Legislative changes focus the panel on the decommissioning process at Vermont Yankee and its economic impact on the area, rather than all nuclear issues in the state. The panel is expanded from seven members to 21 members to include:
(1) the Secretary of Human Services, ex officio, or designee;
(2) the Secretary of Natural Resources, ex officio, or designee;
(3) the Commissioner of Public Service, ex officio, or designee;
(4) the Secretary of Commerce and Community Development, ex officio, or designee;
(5) one member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, chosen by the Speaker of the House;
(6) one member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, chosen by the Committee on Committees;
(7) one representative of the Windham Regional Commission or designee, selected by the Regional Commission;
(8) one representative of the Town of Vernon or designee, selected by the legislative body of that town;
(9) six members of the public, two each selected by the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate;
(10) two representatives of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station (VYNPS or Station) selected by the owner of the Station;
(11) a representative of the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) selected by the IBEW who shall be a present or former employee at the VYNPS;
(12) one member who will represent collectively the Towns of Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Richmond, Swanzey, and Winchester, New Hampshire, when selected by the Governor of New Hampshire at the invitation of the Commissioner of Public Service; and
(13) one member who will represent collectively the Towns of Bernardston, Colrain, Gill, Greenfield, Leyden, Northfield, and Warwick, Massachusetts, when selected by the Governor of Massachusetts at the invitation of the Commissioner of Public Service.
The State of Vermont is currently in the process of filling the additional positions on the panel. It is anticipated that the first meeting of the new panel will occur during the summer of 2014. The new duties of the Panel are summarized as follows:
(1) Hold a minimum of four public meetings each year for the purpose of discussing issues relating to the decommissioning of the VYNPS.
(2) To advise the Governor, the General Assembly, the agencies of the State, and the public on issues related to the decommissioning of the VYNPS, with a written report being provided annually to the Governor and to the energy committees of the General Assembly.
(3) To serve as a conduit for public information and education on and to encourage community involvement in matters related to the decommissioning of the VYNPS and to receive written reports and presentations on the decommissioning of the Station at the Panel’s regular meetings.
(4) To periodically receive reports on the Decommissioning Trust Fund and other funds associated with decommissioning of or site restoration at the VYNPS, including fund balances, expenditures made, and reimbursements received.
(5) To receive reports regarding the decommissioning plans for the VYNPS, including any site assessments and post-shutdown decommissioning assessment reports; provide a forum for receiving public comment on these plans and reports; and to provide comment on these plans and reports as the Panel may consider appropriate.
Reports & Resources
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station - NRC Integrated Inspection Report for the period January 1 through March 31, 2014 (ADAMS Accession No. ML14132A183)
For Emergency information on Vermont Yankee, see the Vermont Radiological Emergency Response Plan for the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Station.